Today is the first day of Ally Week, an annual observance of the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network since 2005. It’s a time to identify, support, and celebrate LGBT allies, so we’re going to do the same this week here at gay4soccer. We’ve asked some of our allies why they are an ally, and what being an ally means to them.
First up is ESPN analyst, former USMNT defender, and the red headed half of the Big Head Red Head podcast Alexi Lalas:
The beauty of soccer is that anyone can enjoy it. It’s is the most inclusive sport in the world. I’m a proud Ally because as our world changes it’s important that soccer continues to be a sport that welcomes everyone.
Alexi was a part of our Allies List from day one, and he took time out of his busy All Star Game week schedule to hang out with his LGBT and allied fans. Thank you Alexi, for being an ally and for all that you do.
DC United midfielder Joanna Lohman took to the stage at the University of Pennsylvania to help relaunch GO! Athletes, a national network of LGBT student-athletes and their allies.
Short for Generation Out, GO! Athletes will provide services such as peer support for LGBT athletes, assistance in creating GO! Athletes chapters at schools, and leading workshops and speakers forums.
Joanna Lohman was the keynote speaker for last night’s relaunch, where she talked about her philanthropic work and life as an out athlete: “This is the time for the next generation of out athletes and allies. Coaches, athletes, fans and allies alike are ready.”
Lohman met her partner Lianne Sanderson when both played for the Philadelphia Independence of WPS.
You can get more information about GO! Athletes at their website.
(Photo: Samarth Shrivastava, Daily Pennsylvanian)
Today is National Coming Out Day. If there is someone in your life dealing with the struggle that is coming out to friends, family, and coworkers as an LGBT person, give them some love and support today.
Here are some coming out resources that may be a help to them or you:
- HRC, the Human Rights Campaign
- GLSEN, the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network
- PFLAG, Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – a great resource if you’re a straight ally looking for ways to be supportive.
Share with them the stories of those in the American soccer community who have come out since last year’s National Coming Out Day:
November 2011: David Testo, former Columbus Crew and Montreal Impact midfielder
Early last month Baltimore Raven Brendon Ayanbadejo took part in a video for Marylanders for Marriage Equality, which drew fire from Maryland Delegate Emmett Burns. Burns called upon the team to prohibit Ayanbadejo from expressing his views on gay marriage.
Enter Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings (another state with gay marriage on the ballot November 6). He took to the internet to pen an expletive-laced blog post in Ayanbadejo’s defense and has since challenged a conservative state representative to a debate and appeared on the cover of Out Magazine.
With so many soccer players who have shown support for the LGBT community, where are the ones vocal about gay marriage like Ayanbadejo and Kluwe?
The Vancouver Whitecaps are launching a new video series called “Off the Pitch,” and captain Jay DeMerit is the star of the inaugural episode.
The idea is for Whitecaps fans to Tweet their hobbies and jobs to the team, and they will film your favorite player learning a bit about your interest.
Jay DeMerit is the team guinea pig for the project as a member of the front office staff takes him along for a lesson in tap dancing.
Check out Jay and his newly found freestyle tap skills:
What other talents to you want to see from the Whitecaps players?
Soccer ally, fashion model, and FC Edmonton goalkeeper Lance Parker is up for Cosmopolitan Magazine’s 2012 Bachelor of the Year, representing his home state of Oklahoma.
Lance’s ideal first date would be cooking a chicken or steak dinner for someone, loves head massages, and waits five dates before jumping in the sack. (What’s a fifth date?)
This is the second time in three years a member of our Soccer Ally list has been a Bachelor of the Year nominee, with DC United midfielder Chris Pontius representing the District of Columbia in 2010. The Pittsburgh Riverhounds’ Hunter Gilstrap represented Pennsylvania last year, making it three years in a row on the list for American soccer pros.
You can vote for Lance Parker (and by extension, all of American soccer) here until October 18.
We hope to be talking to Lance soon about his nomination so if you have any questions for him, tweet them to @gay4soccer.
Major League Soccer is joining GLAAD in going purple for this year’s Spirit Day on October 19.
Spirit Day is now an annual event to speak out against bullying and show support for LGBT youth through millions of Americans wearing the color purple. It was started in 2010 by high schooler Brittany McMillan who encouraged her friends to wear purple in memory of LGBT youth who have committed suicide. It has since grown to include celebrities, business entities like the New York Stock Exchange, and now sports leagues like Major League Soccer.
The NBA and WNBA are also participating this year. Major League Soccer will feature Spirit day on its social media platforms.
You can take the pledge to participate in this year’s Spirit Day at the GLAAD website.
Now maybe MLS clubs can wear purple armbands that weekend too…
Escobar displayed the message “Tu ere maricon” and was suspended for three games, and was given a $82,000 fine that was donated to GLAAD and the You Can Play Project. Prior to his return to his home field, he met with out distance runner Jose Estevez, along with You Can Play Founder Patrick Burke.
Testo threw out the ceremonial first pitch of the game to shortstop Escobar.
David Testo is also the subject of a long form profile featured on SBNation Friday.
Out soccer player David Testo sat down with Leander Schaerlaeckens for an immensely comprehensive profile for SBNation.com. It’s part of a new emphasis on long-form sports writing as part of the site’s new look.
Scaerlaeckens spent three days in Montreal with Testo to get rare insight into the life of the first former Major League Soccer player to come out of the closet.
It’s an amazing read that you can check out at SBNation, but here are the points that stood out for me:
- David Testo struggled growing up gay in an area where he was taught being gay is an abomination, at times going to extreme lengths to hide who he was.
- He details his relationship with MTV reality star Shane Landrum, and getting caught by fellow college athletes with him.
- Perhaps the most candid parts are about his life as a pro player, falling for teammates, masking his sexuality, and self-medicating with alcohol.
FIFA continues to turn a blind eye to LGBT rights as a trio of 2018 World Cup host cities submitted by Russia’s Local Organizing Committee today have laws on the books banning “homosexual propoganda.”
The following cities are in regions that ban such “propoganda” and can impose sanctions or fines for violations:
- Saint Petersburg (enacted 3/30/12)
- Sochi (governed by Krasnodar Krai, enacted 7/19/12)
- Krasnodar (governed by Krasnodar Krai, enacted 7/19/12)
These aren’t archaic laws on the books that no one pays attention to. As you can see, they were enacted recently, and are put to use. Just last month Madonna was sued under the law for the equivalent of $10.5 million for speaking out for gay rights at a Saint Petersburg concert appearance. After successes in Vancouver and London, the 2014 Winter Olympics won’t have a Pride House because of the laws in Sochi’s region (the IOC also doing little to nothing to stand up for gay rights).
Saint Petersburg’s law is also the model for a similar bill before the national parliament in Russia.
Keep up the great work FIFA–we look forward to two upcoming World Cup countries that are terrible for gay rights.